Monday, November 30, 2015

Roman skirmishers make the first foray

I'm building my Polybian Roman army using HaT foot and Zvezda horse. HaT market two companion boxes, one for Hastati and Velites, the other for Principes and Triarii. If you've played Total War: Rome you will know the qualities of these types. If not: Triarii are spear-armed veterans and fight as 4Sp in DBA; Principes and Hastati for this period are interchangeable and fight as 4Bd; and Velites are 2Ps skirmishers armed with javelins.

I built the horse quite some time ago... Zvezda produce their usual high-quality, high-detail stuff which gives me the CvGen and Cv.

I decide to begin the foot with the Velites, since that's only four minis and will give me a feel for the set. The plastic is hardish and not well moulded (i.e. the two halves not married well) so there's a good deal of trimming required. Unfortunately though very little flash exists, it's often right down the middle of a face. Because shields are sculpted into the figure there are also some 'off' poses such as carrying a shield facing inwards. But the effect once painted is not too bad.

Velites based and first pass of flock

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Later Carthaginian II/32a

Finally assembled, this army has as its focus the Hannibal period, especially the Italian campaign.

1xGeneral (Cv) from HaT Carthaginian command;
1xcavalry (Cv) from HaT Spanish cavarly or elephant (El) from HaT war elephants;
1xelephant (El) ditto or light horse (LH) from HaT Numidian cavalry;
3xLibyan or Poeni spearmen (Sp) from HaT Carthaginian veterans;
[Alternative: 3xPoeni or Numidian levies (4Ax) from HaT Carthaginian command;]
1xSpanish scutati or Ligurians (4Ax);
2xSpanish scutati (4Ax); [Alternative: Gauls 4Wb are in my Gallo-British hordes]
1xSpanish caetrati javelinmen (Ps);
1xslingers (Ps).

Elephants! They have Elephants!

Later Carthaginians are entitled to up to two El, and they can be a key to unlocking that wall o' blades that the Romans become - though they are best used against Cv.

I move my existing two HaT war elephants to 60mm square Litko bases. The depth specified in the rulebook is an oddity - longer than the depth of a base width. By contrast in the smaller scales, the depth is the same as base width. The HaT Forest Elephant, as depicted in these models, is quite small and looks lost on the regulation base. Since my entire army scale is so unusual I will always be providing matched armies, I figure the move to 60mm square is forgivable!

The original paint job uses a slop-n-go patina of dark varnish-stain to create the effect of depth and wrinkles, but in keeping with my current treatment of the army the skin gets a full mid-grey coat. Then I decide that's not dark enough and wash that over with Army Painter Dark Wash, by Vallejo. These washes are new to me and something I'm still feeling my way to. Then a lighter grey for the main skin areas - everything other than folds and hollows really - then light grey for highlights. It's fashionable but doesn't really look like anything in the animal kingdom.

The howdah or turret is painted over with yellow because I want to repeat the original red but brighter. For a bright red, use a yellow undercoat, or so I was taught. I add black edges (very roughly) to give a panelled effect.

In fact the yellow looks so good I decide to keep one yellow - which requires a number more coats, because yellow ought to be basecoated white!

Highlights of bright vermilion for the red, and pale yellow for the yellow finish the Elephants off. The crew are more complicated - I keep finding more lining out that needs doing. In many ways it's a crude makeover but will do the job.

Filling the base with more terracotta color caulk, and piling on grey caulk mixed with small pebbles, is the next chore. Once reasonably dry flock is added.

The final task is to add winter-dark clumps of grass. Once those are dry-brushed I'll have completed the entire army.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is this a stretch goal? Italian allies for Punic armies

I have a vague idea that including an 'Italian Allies' cavalry element into the Later Carthaginian lineup would be a good thing. My reasoning is that I plan an Italian-themed army, so, while I do have Gallic options, Italians as an optional Cv make good sense.

The trouble is that it begs for at least one entire Southern Italian army to be built. Why not have Oscan foot as well? And if those are built, why not skirmishers? And so on.

It feels like one of those annoying stretch goals that Kickstarter efforts come up with - the unplanned, we-just-got-lots-of-money-lets-spend-it type of goal.

So for now I think I'll pack my Italian Allies, foot and mounted, away and wait until I have a Polybian Roman army built.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Numidian LH element refurbished

With the Spanish Cv element done the end is in sight!*

There are a couple of compulsory and optional elements left that I intend to have in my starting Later Carthaginian lineup, and they are two El element and one Numidian LH. My intention with these is to refurbish the existing elements, not start from minis on sprue.

The LH element is the sole survivor of my previous pack of HaT Numidian cavalry. I liked the effect of dark varnish over the medium cream plastic so much, I did very little else to them. They are based on card bases, with a mid green flock that suits their usual opponents.

But now I move them to a Litko wooden base, fully repaint the horses, and thoroughly touch up the men. I really like how the horses came out, though not so much the riders. The only things I leave untouched are the silver spear tips and the plain-varnished shields. I judge it's not worth the mistakes that could happen if I try to change those.

I get the base pretty much completed the same night, though I rush adding dry grass effect to the rocky mounds.

*A separate post will discuss the pros and cons of adding Italian Allies!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Spanish Cv painted and ready for basing

My favoured option for the second Cv element in my Later Carthaginian army is Ancient Spanish II/39's Cv General, an element that is described as three 'long shield' Iberian cavalry minis. For this I'm using HaT's Punic War Spanish Cavalry (8055).

In comparison with the Carthaginian Command these minis are a dream to trim out and assemble. The mould does have some minor errors, creating an extra rim around each shield and an uneven join that shows up clearly on helmets. But the plastic is softer and trims very easily.

The main problem, and it's easily solved, is that HaT issue around 2 caetrati (buckler) riders per scutati (long shield). I'm given the choice of having three very similar riders, or a simple conversion. I opt for the latter. I head back to my spare shields bag and fish out two more of the old Esci Barbarian shields, this time the more oval shaped. Cutting off the 'grip' each has to attach to a hand, I have two correctly-shaped shields with a hole in the middle where the boss should be.

I use the same latex caulk that I use for basing to mush that shield onto a suitably trimmed-back small shield on the original rider. It's not beautiful but effective. Later once the caulk is dried I add more caulk carefully shaped to become the missing shield boss.

I decide to leave the one original shield pretty much as is, because my experience is that if I trim to remove the moulding problem, the rim looks wrong.

I use the same black-varnish basecoat technique as before, this time not trying to do too much detail. These are small minis so less is more.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Carthaginian command paint job complete

Finally done! The Grey was an interesting exercise in paint mixing. I'd have a really white-looking grey mix, but when dry it looked distinctly grey. Once varnished I re-highlight in pure white. The same goes for the socks on the Bays.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Bays' 'red' tints come right through the varnish so no need to add further highlights.

Some detailing is done after varnish on both horses and men. On these minis I used a 'non-metallic' metal for most of the bronze and steel areas so a few extra metallic touches bring these up. I also dry-brush the helmet brushes and the Grey's tail and mane. 

I ended up using Duct Tape straps for the trumpeter's shield. Without that it would just keep falling off. You can see the result on the right-hand mini below:

I hope to get these on a base tomorrow. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Slow going...

The Carthaginian command element proceeds slowly. I was hoping to finish the entire element or at least all the painting, but by end of Monday 1 Nov only the riders are done. After accidentally smashing the shield off one I have added a LBM decal to that, and it's ready to stick back on. I may end up breaking the other shield off, since the decals are much easier to apply to shields that aren't already in place. Live and learn.

With the riders, I'm leaving 'final' highlights until everything is finished, because the durable stain I use as varnish brings everything down. Things like white tunics and purple cloaks can be given an extra spot or two of the un-mixed colour before the final matt varnish goes on.

I'm on the last dregs of 'scorched brown' a Citadel colour I find great for darker horses. I want two of the stand to be darker, one a grey. So I'm mixing Vallejo black into Vallejo 'Beasty brown' to get a very deep brown as base colour. For the grey, I mix a light grey as base. It's a colour I should probably have around but there are so many different shades of grey...

As I work the colour around the heads I observe again that these horses have mighty small heads. I'll have to re-line the harness with black, the base colour is all over it.